Join the Battle Point Astronomical Association for the Upcoming Solar Eclipse this Saturday, October 14th!

2023 Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory photo credit Mario Alejandro Torres
2023 Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory photo credit Mario Alejandro Torres

The Battle Point Astronomical Association (BPAA) will open the Ritchie Observatory in Battle Point Park for viewing of this unique and rare event on Saturday, October 14, 2023, provided it’s not raining. The maximum eclipse will begin at approximately 9:20am and end by 10:40am. Registration is not required. Viewers should plan to arrive at the observatory no later than 8am.

“An annular (not ‘annual’!) solar eclipse will be visible along a southeasterly path starting in western Oregon and passing through parts of Northern California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas,” Frank Petrie, BPAA President said. “Here in western Washington, if clouds don’t get in the way, we will see an 80% partial eclipse.”

2016 Madagascar annular eclipse image by Frank Petrie
2016 Madagascar annular eclipse image by Frank Petrie

BPAA will have telescopes equipped with solar filters for both visual observing and video projection of the eclipse in progress. They will also have a limited number of eclipse glasses available for purchase for safe direct viewing.

The usual warnings apply: NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN without proper eye protection! The Sun’s ultraviolet light will permanently damage your retinas. “This is always true, but especially so during an eclipse, when you might be tempted to stare at the sun to try to see the eclipse,” Frank warns.

“Proper eye protection consists of special filters verified to be compliant with international safety standard ISO 12312-2,” Frank explained. “Look for this ISO number printed on the solar viewer or glasses; if the number is not there, do not use the viewer. Viewers manufactured prior to 2015 are not in compliance and should be discarded. If you don’t have a viewer, you can use various forms of ‘pinhole projection’ to safely watch the moon’s shadow crossing the sun. Details here: https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/projection or simply search online for ‘eclipse pinhole viewer.’”

2023 Eclipse Path map - copyright GreatAmericanEclipse.com
2023 Eclipse Path map – copyright GreatAmericanEclipse.com

“Solar eclipses occur when the moon passes in front of the sun. The sun and moon appear to be about the same size to us here on earth, because while the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, it is also 400 times (more or less) farther away,” Frank continued. “But the moon’s apparent size varies slightly as it travels along its elliptical orbit around earth. When the moon is at its closest point, called perigee, it appears larger and we call it a ‘supermoon’. Conversely, when the moon is at apogee it is farther away and appears smaller. The difference can be as much as 12 percent.”

According to EarthSky.org, this will be the first of two great American solar eclipses, this Saturday’s eclipse is known as the “ring of fire” solar eclipse. At mid-eclipse, those along that eclipse path will see the sun in a ring around the moon. As stated on their website, “Overall, the eclipse will last 214 minutes. At maximum eclipse – for those along the eclipse path – the sun will be 0.907 percent covered by the moon. The part of the sun that will visible is its outer surface. So, an annular eclipse is essentially a partial eclipse, throughout the event. And remember, use eye protection!”

2016 Madagascar annular eclipse images by Frank Petrie 2
2016 Madagascar annular eclipse image by Frank Petrie

For more information, visit: https://BPAstro.org/events

About BPAA:

Battle Point Astronomical Association’s  got its start back in 1992, when three islanders, Edwin E. Ritchie, John H. Rudolph and Mac Gardiner founded Battle Point Astronomical Association, named for the location in which the group met to study and observe the night sky. The location was (and still is) perfect due to its open landscape and the lack of light pollution, and was an ideal place to conduct public star parties, presentations on the latest developments in astronomy, and classes on basic astronomy.

The park had another perk, a potential location for an observatory. Sitting on a small rise in Battle Point Park was an abandoned World War II Navy radio-transmitter building known as Helix House, which originally housed a helical coil that generated long carrier waves to the Pacific Fleet. Working with the Parks Department, BPAA members, the community, and the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club, the dream would eventually become a reality, and on December 21, 1997, the building was christened the Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory. If you’d like to learn more about the observatory and its founders, visit our previous articles: Reaching for the Stars: The Ritchie Observatory at Battle Point Park – Built for and by Bainbridge Islanders | THE ISLAND WANDERER ) and The Sky’s the Limit at the Ritchie Observatory at Battle Point Park | THE ISLAND WANDERER

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